#Hack4Good at Web Summit Dublin

Last week, I was lucky enough to escape the adverse (i.e. slightly windy) conditions in London and fly to Dublin for Web Summit 2013. It’s the first time I’ve ever been to Ireland so I was curious to see what kind of conference Web Summit would be, given the fact that – and I think the Irish hackers out there would agree with me – there are rarely web events of this kind of scale in Ireland. After 3 days and 574 miles travelled, however, I was not disappointed.

A lot has been said already about Web Summit. Estimates talked around during and after the event pegged the amount of attendees at around the 10,000 mark, and conference room was perpetually buzzing with excitement and a particular brand of fervor that you can only experience within the “start-up” culture of our industry. I’m going to talk about something slightly different, which is the Hack4Good 0.3 hackathon put on by our friends at Geeklist.

You can tell that Hack4Good is something that Geeklist truly believe in. It really shows in the way they talk about the event and the things they do to support it. This is not your standard “goof off work and eat free pizza” kind of hackday; the Geeklist guys are truly devoted to making sure their reach is used for creating a better future using technology, and this is something that myself and the team at Pusher really want to get behind.

The Hack4Good concept is simple – you have a day to create a great app that will help solve social and environmental problems. The various humanitarian organisations came by with a few ideas to inspire us too – including Oxfam, Concern Worldwide, the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, World Vision, Goal, Centrepoint, Inspire Ireland and Young Enterprise.

We were joined by long-time friend of Pusher and all-round swell guy Martyn from Sendgrid, and I had the pleasure of meeting the staff from Pearson, Hull and Copper.io for the first time too.

Look at my new haircut

We kicked things off at about 9am with our API demos and things got underway quickly. Progress was slow initially while teams tried to get their heads around the ideas stage, as I could see that all the teams were working really hard to come up with something that could really do some social good instead of stitching APIs together. The pace soon picked up though (no doubt helped by the Thai food lunch and abundance of coffee!) and by the afternoon, heads were down and some great ideas were being worked on.

A great thing about this event was that it seemed to be very diverse. I’ve seen surprisingly few events that had such a good mixture of genders and cultures working together. Towards the end of the day, I was given a demo of an amazing hack to crowdsource written by a couple from Argentina – much respect for making the journey over to join us! We were even lucky enough at one stage to be joined by the Mayor of Dublin who stopped by to check on how our hackers were doing.

My personal “hack of the day” was by the eventual winners of the whole day – “Drive by Donations”. Featuring two young hackers aged just 16 and 19, I was blown away by their hack which used an open wi-fi router and our service to prompt you to donate in real-time when you walk past a particular geo fenced location. Pretty cool!

 

Many thanks to Reuben, the fantastically named Jedi and the rest of the team from Geeklist, the staff from Sendgrid, Pearson, Hull and Copper.io and all of those who came and said hello or used our API for thier hacks. We’ll see you again soon!

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